In due time

Two days and fifteen photos ago, I posed a challenge to find a hidden subject, and this is the reveal. Eventually. Gotta stick with my narrative.

Five weeks ago, I photographed a pair of half-sized, juvenile green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) hanging around the front lawn area – one on a potted Japanese maple, and one on the established resident. Mostly – they switched perches from night to night. Soon after that, I stopped seeing them, and the temperatures dropped to being fairly chilly at nights, their preferred time to hunt, so I suspected that the younger ones had found some soft earth to hole up for the winter. In fact, I suggested to The Girlfriend that she be very careful when unpotting any of the plants around the front porch, because the frogs could have chosen those as ideal areas to hibernate within, as we ran afoul of before.

Meanwhile, her potted trumpet flower (genus Brugmansia) sitting across the lawn a handful of meters away is laden with the giant buds that indicate it will be blooming soon, and as we examined it the other day I remarked that, though I considered it an ideal perch, I’d only ever seen one frog and one mantis taking advantage of its tall stalks and broad leaves. You can see where this is going, can’t you?


juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea perched on stem of trumpet flower Brugmansia
The very next morning I found a juvenile, about the same size as the ones I’d seen weeks earlier, perched atop one of the stems of the trumpet flower. The disparity in size between the frog and the flower buds is very expressive, and probably gives a good impression; to be accurate, the frog is roughly 3cm in length while the flowers are 18-20. Where this one had been in the intervening weeks, I couldn’t say – I was only finding a couple of quite large adults. But I was happy to take advantage of the opportunity.

green treefrgo Hyla cinerea dozing atop stem of trumpet flower Brugmansia
Unlike the adults, this one was not only very aware of my presence, it shifted uncertainly as I leaned in close, not sure if it should flee or continue counting on its stillness and camouflage to avoid detection. But I had come prepared, so even though the frog was just about eye-level and the broad leaves were in the way, I got off a few flash shots.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea on trumpet flower Brugmansia stem
But seeing how it was anxious about my presence, I let it have its peace for the day and began looking around the yard for other subjects. Which is when I found the second, once again on the large established Japanese maple tree. And how I spotted it, I’m not really sure, because it’s one of the subtlest subjects that I’ve ever seen. So subtle, in fact, that on unloading the memory card, I struggled to find the frog in the foliage even though I knew just where I’d framed it; the only thing I can say is that photos are a little harder than real life, lacking depth and increasing contrast. And yet, on going back out to get better photos as the light got brighter, I had a hard time finding it again, and lost it twice even after doing so; once I thought it had taken a powder while I was adjusting settings on the camera, until I found it again right where it had been.

So anyway, go back and look at the original again if you haven’t found it already, but here it is:

highlighted green treefrog Hyla cinerea in Japanese maple foliage
I always wondered how that intersecting white stripe helped them, but in this kind of foliage that was catching sunlight at certain angles, it worked perfectly.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea in foliage of Japanese maple
And bear in mind, here the short depth-of-field is actually helping you; you wouldn’t have those leaves going so distinctly out of focus when viewing this in person.

And yes, I went in close and used the flash for this one too, having a little better view.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea within dew-laden Japanese maple
Much as it looks like it had rained recently, it was simply the overnight dew, so heavy as to even make the yard slightly muddy. No need to get out the mist-sprayer for any subjects at this time of year.

Now a bit of amusement. A little later on, I went past both of them again, and the trumpet flower one had shifted position and looked like it was about to jump away. I quickly slipped around to get a head-on perspective and produce a photo a little more dynamic than these typical poses. But as I leaned in, it blinked and shifted away, and I caught this in mid-maneuver, snagging a curious expression.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea deciding against the leap
That was too evocative, and so I staged another photo, and then spent way too much time tricking it all out. However, I’m nothing but pleased with the result:

edited photo of green treefrog playing a synth keyboard
Someday I’ll be back and go into how involved things like this are; it’s not as simple as pasting in a photo of a keyboard. But that’s for another post, especially if I decide to illustrate the steps.

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